Friday, November 27, 2009

Post Thanksgiving

It's the end of a very busy week. We got home Tuesday after Bob's funeral and spent Wednesday cleaning and baking. We did score a kerosene heater from b-i-l Gus and J used up the fuel in it in his shop that afternoon.

It was a good visit. The four dogs tired themselves out and got thoroughly wet and muddy, we played Scrabble, Scattergories, rummy and crazy eights, and showed off our new shed. Poor Sectaurs had a root canal on Tuesday and goes back for a crown next week on his birthday.

I found a new flavor of Jello pudding, pumpkin spice, which made a very nice pie. Graham cracker crust, layer of pudding in the bottom, followed by a layer of pudding and whipped cream, and one of just the cream. Mmmm. All the nice flavor of a pumpkin pie, but none of the eggy custard texture that I don't like. The kids were here by 8:30 Wed. night, and we promptly had dessert. J was a wee bit distressed by that, saying they were "supposed" to be for Thanksgiving. I figure, we'll be too full from dinner, and they were leaving before 5 the next day, so why not enjoy the goodies now? I certainly did not want leftovers.

Since the veggies were all canned or frozen, except for the potatoes, there wasn't a lot of prep involved. I do make my own stuffing and cooked one batch separately for Ameranth. The most stress I had was remembering not to use the same spoons to stir things, so no meat touched her food. None of us like dark meat, so that was saved for the soup, and the stripped carcass went right into a pot after dinner. J will make his turkey barley soup and freeze some for Sectaurs too.

It was a very nice day, especially after being part of a family gathering last weekend for a much sadder occasion. I am very thankful for all we have, most of which was in our house yesterday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bohemian Rhapsody

Sorry to do this two days in a row, but it's a busy day and I just found this great video:

Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Flash Mob

I got home from RI this afternoon and found an email from my best friend from high school, which included this video.

She is the artistic director of the Rainbow Company,  a youth theater group in Las Vegas.  Then I found this great article about her!  How neat.

(For those of my few readers who know Karen, she is in the video- dressed in yellow and joins in the second group)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Let's not have a sniffle

We're headed to RI for a funeral. Our brother-in-law passed away yesterday after months of declining health. He was married to J's "Irish twin"( he and his sister are the same age for a week) and it was a second marriage for both of them. I can't remember now how long it's been, but it's close to 30 years.

Bob was ex-Navy, from Arizona and his Mexican heritage blended remarkably well with the crazy Irishmen(and women). His youngest son moved in with them in his teens, and when Bob and Trish moved to RI later to live with J's mom, his son decided to come east as well. Later, a teenage grandson came to join them. We used to tease them for missing the cute baby years and going straight to the teenage angst.

Here's a favorite family song, for any occasion- but I am sure we will hear it this weekend.  Goodbye, Bob. We'll miss you.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Mr Crazy picks up chicks

Not that kind of chicks! We got our annual hen replacements yesterday. Friends buy baby chicks every year, and when they start laying, we get their 'old' ones. Sadly, we usually have room for them, thanks to days like this.

Last year we just put them in the back of J's truck, with the soft cover on, which worked out fine.  W caught them, handed off to J, and I was in charge of cover control. One crafty hen was eyeing the daylight whenever I peeled the corner back for another entry. She made a break for it and missed her chance to come live with us. J had one tucked under his arm backwards, and all I saw coming at me was a soft round molting butt. Think "pink cantaloupe with five-o-clock stubble"

We were down to one lonely hen(due to a mistake which I won't go into here) who was spending her time lurking around our front step, crooning whenever she saw us, or hanging out at the fence with the dogs. Seeming so needy, we thought she would love having new friends. Not so much. We couldn't back the truck right up to the door this year, because of the new shed, so had to grope blindly under the cover and grab one at a time. I got a handful of that naked rump at one point. Eww.

The home team rep decided to attack each visitor as it came through the door, until she was outnumbered 7 to 1, and the group moved outside. Later, we brought  some bread and grapes out and saw our hen backed up into a corner and the rest milling about at the other end of the hen yard. Aw, poor little hen, left out of the clique.  Tossed the goodies in and the hostess began clucking, saying, "mmm, mmm, this is so good, look what I found, come on, come on" as hens do.  When the other ladies joined her, she attacked them all, cackling wildly. Lost our sympathy vote right there.

Trying to get out of the laundry room, without tripping over Boomer-
J-   "You know, you'd be a good backup dog"
Me-"You mean, in case something happened to a #1 dog?"
J-  "no, he walks backwards - you know, he could learn tricks and stuff"

Friday, November 13, 2009

What I did on my days off

This is what has kept me busy and off the streets the last few days:

I know, not much to see, is there. That's because this is what used to be there!

About 15 years ago, we built this wonderful little shelter for our grill. It reached the end of it's life this week. And it went down pretty easily. J had been saying periodically that we needed to do something before winter, and I put it off.  But when I was out raking I glanced up and saw that the posts were leaning quite a bit. Further investigation showed the posts had all rotted at ground level. Since one of said posts held up our satellite dish, I figured better move it now, rather than in the middle of a snowstorm.

This next picture shows how small the maple tree was then. The one on the left is gone, and the other one can be seen in the 'after' picture, now holding the dish.

 Again, I know, not supposed to put them on a tree. The branches are all cleared out on that side, so there shouldn't be any interference.

The view from our porch is now wide open, so that is nice. It also changed the look from the road- the maple tree actually looks good.  Evil maple.

I like the sepia effect on this one.

Having finished up the demolition yesterday, I took the dogs for a walk and brought my camera, to get the picture from the road and this one showing the skim of ice on our pasture pond(actually a swale).  This is the first year that this didn't dry up in the summer.

I am amazed that any of the pictures came out, since my camera is an old one and slooooww in cold weather, as am I.  I have a leash looped on each wrist while I try to hold the camera still.

Oh, and it's hunting season, so that means wearing orange if you go out on the road now. I found an orange mesh vest with reflective stripes in the closet, very similar to what road workers wear.  So similar that I started wondering where this had come from?  Did a child steal liberate find this years ago? Surely vests like this are available to the general public and I won't be asked any probing questions if caught wearing it.

Come to think of it, just where did that orange traffic cone in the shed come from?

The Way We Get By

The Way We Get By  is a powerful, moving documentary about the troop greeters in Bangor, Maine. Please, watch it on PBS if you can.  But have some tissues ready.

Here in Maine we know about this group, but probably most people aren't aware of what they have been doing since 2003. Bangor International Airport is the last stop in the US for most of the troops going overseas, and the first  landing on US soil for those coming home. This group of volunteers, most of them retired, many of them veterans, meet the planes coming in, at all times of the day and night, to thank the soldiers for their service. They greet each one, have donated cell phones for them to use, free of charge, to call loved ones, and so far, said goodbye or hello to over 900,000 troops. And 155 dogs.

J contacted them once when our nephew was coming home from Iraq, and was able to find out what flight he was on, and when it was due in. He drove up and got to say hello on the stopover. If we lived closer to Bangor,  we would love to be involved with this.

It aired on Veteran's Day but can be seen on through the link above until December 10. It doesn't matter what your views on Iraq or Afghanistan are, as one of them says, it's about the servicemen and women.  Watch it- you won't regret it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Discovery Channel video

I like this new version as much as the original one.  Of course, now it's stuck in my head for the day.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It was a beautiful day here

I love a November day that is sunny and gets up into the 60s. The next couple of days are supposed to be warmer than usual as well. Lovely.

We puttered around, doing chores that needed to be done before winter settles in for good. Cleared out a truckful of stuff for the dump, tarpapered a shelter for bikes and mowers, cleaned gutters, dug a trench to bury the electrical wires out to the new shed, cleaned the porch, unhooked the water to the outside spigot, winterized the bulkhead, moved shelves into the new shed, made a rolling cabinet for the table saw, and got a step in place on the shed. Whew!  Oh, and did the dishes and watched most of the Patriots game.

And now I must go, J wants to play Wii tennis.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wired for music?

This is a fun video I watched this morning illustrating that our brains can easily recognize and produce music.

Annnd, no clever segue to today's way-back memory, which was brought about by yesterday's post. Our new shed has filled the void in our yard left by the demolition of our barn.

Our neighbor gave us this picture of our house, which was taken in the 30's or 40's guessing from the size and style of the photo.

This is what it looked like when we bought it in 1987. I know, it looks terrible, but we fell in love with it (the possibilities, not the reality) when we walked inside.

It was a great old post and beam barn, and when the time came, a neighbor helped us pull it down with  his tractor, in exchange for the beams. We reused the tin roof, and all the roof boards, so it lives on in other buildings.

Sectaurs and friend. My son is the one with the glowing white skin- the Irish/Swedish genes hit him with a vengeance!  I also see a family photograhic trait showing.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The shed is here!

Our new shed was delivered today, in time for me to see it in place before going to work. John stopped traffic (or he would have had there been any) as the truck backed into the driveway.

It was so cool to see the big trailer tip up to slide it off-something got stuck on the first attempt, so it was lowered, the delivery man poked a pipe up underneath it, and the second try worked.

There was a set of 4 smaller wheels that lowered to adjust the trailer right and left to get it centered on the gravel.

I am proud to say the wheels barely dented the base, however we could have had a  leetle bit more gravel. We were told to have a foot extra all the way around, which we did, but we'll have to shovel a bit more under the very ends of the supports, since they hang a few inches.  However, the shed is level- we checked.

Of course, J would have loved a bigger shed, but 14x24 will be fine, although we will fill it up fast.  J put up a little insulation and moved in a few saws while I was gone.

The table saw is sitting on a solid core door that we bought today for only $8.00 at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Lewiston. We had never been there before, and it is not terribly big, but they have lots of stuff there that has been taken out of old buildings and can still be used. I think we'll go back and see if we can pick up a few more doors, since they will make great workbenches.

First job will be the electricity. Since Sunday is supposed to get up to 60, that will work out great for J to get that done without having to thaw out his fingers often. I guess I will be cleaning leaves out of the gutters.

We are very happy with the color we chose, since we were hoping to have it remind us of our old barn that we had to take down, due to years of neglect. We loved the storage and the kids played in the hay loft and the stalls, but it eventually was becoming unsafe. We would have loved to have been able to renovate it and keep it, but didn't have the money.

The new shed is almost exactly where the barn stood and it looks good. Even if it is a quarter of the size. Probably less. No matter, we love it already.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I tried using the macro setting to show the snow, but the picture just looks blurry. Meh. It's that kind of day.

Edit- it immediately started snowing more and I tried another with a normal setting- Now it looks much worse than it is, lol.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I really hoped I would be writing that Maine kept our same-sex marriage law in place, but no.  It was repealed, 53% to 47%, I think. Of course I am baffled because I think 'my' side had the much more cogent arguments.

The repeal group was backed by the Catholic Church and many people stated that marriage should be limited to one man, one woman, because how can you have a real family unless that couple can produce children? Hmm, does that mean that childless couples, whether by choice or not, are not really married?  News flash- gay couples can have children, using the same methods 'normal' couples do, in vitro fertilization, surrogates or adoption.

The now-repealed law allowed same sex couples to be married, not civilly unionized, and some people really didn't want their word to be used by gay people, saying it demeaned their marriage. The law also stated that any religious group could refuse a marriage ceremony, so it was strictly a legal issue. The condition of my marriage does not depend on that of my neighbors.  We were married in a Catholic ceremony only because it was very important to J's mother, and made no difference to me. I never asked her if she thought my daughter's marriage was not valid because they went to a justice of the peace.

The other tack taken was that homosexual marriage would be taught in our schools, starting at kindergarten level. Doubtful. Although wouldn't it be nice for the children of same-sex couples to have their families validated and accepted? They are not going to disappear because their parents can't be married.

Enough of that.

Moving on to sad news closer to us, through Shoeshine. He called yesterday to tell us one of his coworkers had died, after catching the flu. Shoeshine works for a small company that makes seeded paper by hand, and Norm had worked there for years. He was around 40 and had Down's Syndrome and once he was ill went very quickly. Norm loved Shoeshine, and his bosses, who were very involved in the Special Olympics. Many of the workers would go every year to cheer Norm on, and they always threw him a birthday party at work. He will leave a big hole in their lives.

Last, and certainly least, we found out that our shed will not be delivered at 8 on Friday, but between 2 and 3. J took the day off to be here, and I have to go in for two hours of training that afternoon. Pooh. Oh well, that's a small bump in the road at this point.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My Personal Saint

November 1st is J's birthday, and All Saint's Day, as he likes to remind me, as if there is a direct correlation between the two facts.

Growing up, he brainwashed his many siblings into giving him a portion of their Halloween candy as his due, and continued with our kids. They were happy to give him the items they didn't like, as they did with the black jelly beans at Easter. Nowadays, his birthday is spent shopping the Halloween clearance sales, for next year's ghouls, and he made out pretty well this year, with a handful of masks for .10 each.

We drove down to RI Thursday to spend the night, leaving the dogs with Grandma and Grandpa while we went to MA Friday to help with the move to Sectaur's new house. He couldn't take time off, so Ameranth was directing the movers who were hired to move the big stuff. Such as the 3 couches that had to go out the way they came in last year- through the window to the fire escape, that has a spiral staircase. No way were we about to try that!

The new house is less than a mile away from their apartment, and most of the day was spent loading up the van, pulling the other car into the parking spot to hold it for the next load and feeding the meter. After a load or two, I opted out of the stair trips and stayed behind to clean the apartment. Ms M came up early to take Anna away to play with her dog for the day, which helped greatly. Then she came back to help us finish up. Underestimating the sheer volume of belongings and a shortage of boxes resulted in a lot of unpacked stuff lying around which nearly made us turn around and leave.  Just kidding! We wouldn't have abandoned you guys.

Anyway, they are settled in to the very nice little house he bought and will be much happier there than above the bar with the karaoke Thursdays. I don't know how long Ameranth will want to live with her brother, and vice versa, but for now it's working out.

I had posted a picture of my apple squares last week and got quite a response. My father sent an email saying they read my blog and thought perhaps they should get a square or two for lodging and dogsitting?  That was already in the plans, I assured them.

Then I found out that Ameranth and Ms M discussed the fact that it would be pretty cruel to post the picture if some weren't headed their way. Of course I had planned to bring them down with us. The last one was sent home with Ms M for Mr C, and I assume it made it there safely. (If it didn't, Mr C,  then I was mistaken and she didn't take it with her)

We headed home again Saturday, aching and tired, with no Halloween candy in the house. J had his candy tithe from his children, 4 small bars of candy, and Tictacs for emergency backup. We haven't had anyone show up for several years, but lo and behold, a friend of Shoeshine's showed up with his son. Yay!  The spooky music played and the ghouls swayed in the wind, and J was happy.

Recipe, per request

I had several requests for the apple square recipe after posting this so here it is. After making these a few times I wrote down the approximate amounts I used, so results may vary. For an average cookie sheet(with sides) of 11 x 15, I use two batches of 2-crust pie dough:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tbs of shortening
4-6 tbs of cold water

Either divide it in two and roll each part into a square, overlapping in the pan, or roll it into a rectangle and cover the bottom in one fell swoop. Add apples to fill it and mix the second batch for the top. Bake at 450 30-40 minutes, or until it looks done.

I use enough apples  to almost fill my 2 1/2 qt bowl- about 6 large apples maybe? If I use Macintosh, I add some Granny Smiths to the mix- this week I used all Cortlands. Add:
1-1 1/4 cup sugar, depending on taste
1/3 cup flour
dash of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

I mix all of that to the cut apples and let them sit while I make the dough. It makes a nice juicy mix.

After cooling, cut into squares which will stand up pretty well to traveling in a baggie for lunch.  Enjoy.